Connected device that helps friends focus without getting distracted

Created: December 11th, 2021



Connected devices that help friends focus without getting distracted


We explored the space of productivity between friends. The premise of our product is that when friends study/work together, it helps them stay focused. Our product, Blossom, allows friends to still have the sentiment of "working together" even if they are physically apart. The second part of our design addresses helping friends be more mindful when they get distracted by their phones. When a friend picks up their phone off the platform of the device, their own flower and the flower on their friend's device starts to calmly breathe.

In terms of tangible design, we wanted to keep the form simple and aesthetically pleasing. We thought that a square with rounded corners would be a sleek design with 2 pastel-colored flowers. These colors are not distracting to the eye and are subtle.  



We've taken the approach of using calm and ambient technology. We decided on this approach because we wanted our device to be unobtrusive, something in the background that could help users be mindful of their distractions.


Here are 3 precedents that informed our design proposal:

1. Ever Blooming Mechanical Tulip

This is a flower form that blooms upon touch. We thought this was a very beautiful and delicate design. This design inspired up to use a flower as it many times represents productivity and looks nice on a desk, which is where our device is intended to be placed.


2. Couple Communication Device

This project inspired us to make paired connection an integral part of our design. This long-distance couple communication device is a way for couples to feel emotionally closer even though they are physically apart. This is such a meaningful use of IOT. In a similar fashion, we intended to also create a meaningful interaction between friends who want to feel like they are studying/working together even if they are apart through our device. 


3. Internet Connected Pomodoro Timer

This was a productivity tool that publishes your work and rest cycles to Google Sheets for analysis. We really loved the topic of productivity as it went well in combination of our previous design goals and inspirations. We also appreciated the concept of publishing data so the user could analyze their own behavior and habits. We included a similar idea in our final concept where users would receive a weekly report of their work session habits. 


According to the reading Chapter 2 "Principles of Calm technology" by Amber Case, there are multiple design principles of calm technology. We incorporated the following principles from the reading in our product:

1. Requires little attention: Our device is intended to stay in the background. The lights are not bright, and the form is simple. There is also very little input needed from the user (just turning it on and placing their phone on the platform)

2. Make use of peripheral vision: The lights on the roses breathe slowly so that it would catch their attention but will not be intrusive or invasive.

3. Affective design: We believe that our product will help replicate the joy of working alongside a friend. It will connect two friends so that they are keep each other productive and less distracted.

4. Simplicity: This is something we discussed frequently. We wanted to make sure this device does only one or two things, as opposed to being a complicated device. It should be embedded into their routine, but not too demanding or difficult to learn.


Conceptual Design

Our concept is a paired device that works between two friends to motivate them to stay focused and be more mindful of distractions. Each device has two flowers — one representing the device owner, the other one representing their friend. 

When the person (user 1) is ready to start working, they can use a button to turn on their focus mode, which will light up the flower representing them on both friends' devices. The flower will start to gently breathe, prompting the user to place the phone on the bottom platform of the device. Once the phone has been put down, the light will become stable.

If the friend (user 2) sees that user 1 is focusing, they can be motivated to also start their focus session. In that case, the procedure above will be repeated, after which both flowers will then light up on each person's devices.

During their focus time, if any of the two users gets distracted and picks up their phone, the flower representing this person will once again start to gently breathe on both devices. This breathing motion is designed to capture the user's attention in a non-intrusive way and remind them of their own distractions, thereby gently nudging them to go back to work.